OMP holds second meeting in Matara | Sunday Observer

OMP holds second meeting in Matara

Holding its second public meeting, with the families of disappeared persons in Matara yesterday, Chairman of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), Saliya Peiris PC said the OMP will not bow down to any political pressure in executing its duties.

“We will work independently without being subjected to any undue political influences,” he said, addressing the families of the disappeared.

Commissioner of the OMP, Dr. Nimalka Fernando said the OMP will not be made a public spectacle leading up to the UN Security Council meetings, replying to concerns raised by families regarding the subject only being taken up at critical political junctures such as the Human Rights session in Geneva held in March and September every year.

Almost 150 family members of persons in the South who went missing since the late 1980s following the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) uprising, attended the public meeting at the Matara District Secretariat where they voiced their concerns regarding the OMP and its functions along with their grievances.

The families were from the Matara, Galle and the Hambantota districts. Notably missing were families of those missing in the security forces probably due to the war commemorations held yesterday. At the meeting many families raised their grievances and claimed that proper compensation was not provided.

Economic grievances dominated the meeting with those affected requesting a quick response in this regard while many appeared to have accepted that their missing family members are no more. The OMP announced they will establish 12 regional offices in the near future including an office in Matara to receive information and complaints from families and other individuals. With information on the missing lacking, the OMP is also set to compile an extensive database of missing persons across the island.

“There is no proper list of those who have disappeared since the 1970s,” Peiris said, adding that, therefore, the OMP will compile a informative database to assist them during their inquiries.

Units to assist in investigations, tracing, and witness protection will also be set up, the OMP said.

Peiris, refuting allegations that the OMP is limited to those in the North, clarified that it will also inquire into missing persons in the South, including 5,100 missing soldiers and police officers during the war.